Hello, friends, and welcome to my recap of Wynonna Earp season Bulshar, episode “Jolene”! Did you miss me last week? I missed you, but I was partying hard with the boss at EH Con and then my non-Earp life sort of digested any hope I had of doing anything fun, so the recap just didn’t happen. But hopefully I’ll more than make up for it this week and we’ll all just have a good time together and definitely not cry at all.
Previously on Wynonna Earp, Jeremy met a boy that he’ll definitely maybe add to his fractional sex times with, creepy shit happened in the woods, including Nicole THROWING BULSHAR’S RING INTO THE TREES, Doc seems to be burning his candle at both ends (so to speak), Mama Earp escaped prison and ended up in the barn (which is consecrated ground, just as a reminder for everyone, in case that’s important later), and that’s probably it. Oh, except ZOIE FREAKING PALMER as Jolene showed up with some mind-altering baked goods, probably about to cause all sorts of trouble in Purgatory. So grab a cupcake, make sure you have all of your rings on your fingers, stay out of the forest, and do your best not to lick any murder trees. Let’s get started!
We open on Wynonna tying up Michelle in the barn. Now, I have a rather contentious relationship with my mother sometimes, but this feels above and beyond that, really. Mama doesn’t want Waves to be alone, but Wynonna assures her Waverly will be safe. Michelle explains that in order to keep Waverly safe, she tried to exorcise the demon, but instead she bound the it to herself, and it’s been torturing her ever since. Wynonna is curious why Mama would keep this a secret — after all, just like the Winchesters, killing demons is the family business. Mama was trying to keep her girls safe, but when Waverly showed up and touched her at the prison, the demon escaped. Instead of making a run for the border (although, honestly, if it’s the U.S. border, you’re probably better off in a Canadian prison), she went to the homestead to save her youngest daughter.
Inside, Waverly is pouring her heart out to Jolene, who is plying her with baked goods, which seem to have a hypnotic effect on her.
Wait a minute. Does this mean Jolene maybe hasn’t been in Purgatory her whole life, being best buds with all of our scoobies?! Does she not have the best of intentions?!
After the opening (that just isn’t the same without 500 Earpers screaming I TOLD THAT DEVIL TO TAKE YOU BACK), Doc enters the kitchen, where we get a lovely Domestic!JoleNonna dishes and baking scene. Wynonna tied her mom up in the barn, and it took Doc just one brief interaction to figure out who she was. Whiskey-soaked snark does seem to be a theme in this family.
Wynonna tells Doc she doesn’t know what to do with Mama, since she’s technically a fugitive from the law but also there’s that pesky demon. Jolene points out that Mama isn’t exactly the most reliable narrator of her own story, then plies Doc with snickerdoodles.
Doc says that maybe Mama is telling the truth and tells Wynonna about the third voice that only he heard on the prison tapes and explains that he was able to hear it because he went to Hell in the AU. I do have to say, it may have taken him a little while, but I like that he finally came clean to Wynonna about this. It’s been hanging over his head for a while now, and it must feel good for him to get it off his chest.
I’m begging of you, please don’t take my man
In the barn, Waverly and her mama are hashing out some demon facts. Michelle saw a demon hovering over Waverly’s crib when she was a baby and attacked it with a fireplace poker (on-brand), and from then on, she noticed a demon face in all of Waves’ pictures (thank Juan Carlo she lost it before school-picture day). She tore them up, thinking that would get rid of the demon, but spoiler alert — it did not. Waverly starts to leave, thinking Michelle is just making up excuses, and then she remembers — in kindergarten, she didn’t want to sit by the storytime mirror because she kept seeing what we now know is…Jolene.
The sheer look of RELIEF on Michelle’s face that someone actually believes her about the demon is heartbreaking. She’s been carrying this secret for years, just like Wynonna did, but unlike Wynonna, no one actually ever believed her, even in secret. She reaches out for Waverly, and Waverly grasps her hand, assuring her that she’s not alone anymore. She has Waverly and Wynonna…and Jolene. Wait. Who?
Jolene finds the guard who Wynonna beheaded, who appears to be just fine now, head fully attached. She knows how he treated his inmates, since she hitched a ride in Mama’s brain, and she decides that his tongue is payment for being a giant douche canoe. Okay, so maybe Jolene isn’t all bad.
At Awkward Barn Introductions, Mama meets Doc, Wynonna’s “uh…..” and finds out about Waverly’s cop ladyfriend. She’s a bit taken aback, but it’s hard to tell which part of that is more surprising to her. Personally, I think it’s the cop part, not the lady part, because Michelle Earp strikes me as the type who doesn’t care if you’re roping a heifer or a steer.
And guess who comes in the barn next, just trying to confuse everyone.
Her baked goods are doing a really good job of distracting everyone from the fact that she’s definitely the demon and hasn’t been everyone’s friend “since forever.” Mama wants to summon the demon at the Gibson Greenhouse (where I can only assume Curtis grew his prize tomatoes) to bind the demon to herself again, so Jolene starts to put her plan into action, trying to divide and conquer the Earps and their People. She corners Doc next to Charlene, insisting to him that he’s a distraction to Wynonna. She doesn’t have time to worry about “a bartender with half a lung and a probable mood disorder” going to Hell and questions his usefulness.
Poor Doc. He’s so hurt, but he doesn’t know what to believe. After all, Jolene never has lied to him (you know, other than about her entire existence). After he eats Jolene’s sweet treat (not a euphemism), we can see his mood shift towards Waverly.
Please don’t take him just because you can
At the Gibson greenhouse, the Earp women plan for the demon’s arrival. Waverly, who has the best timing ever this season, decides this is the best time to have a parental heart-to-heart. Michelle, as she strokes the hand of an angel statue (the same one from the opening credits?), tells Waverly her father’s name is Julian, “someone better” who always managed to find her when she escaped from Father and Husband of the Year Ward Earp.
Jolene gets herself pulled over by Nicole, but it’s just to dessert!glamour her. She causes a little trouble and drops a breadcrumb about how the Earp sisters AND THEIR FUGITIVE MOTHER are up to some shenanigans — shenanigans Nicole didn’t know about. I guess her demon powers include knowing what buttons to push AND knowing what snack to bake. She infers that Doc is useless and can’t help his girls and that no one wants Nicole around.
Your beauty is beyond compare, with flaming locks of auburn hair
Guys. Jolene is a straight-up demon.
With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green
The prison Revenant shows up at the greenhouse, and Mama ropes him and pulls him down, because once a rodeo spitfire, always a rodeo spitfire. Wynonna sends him to Hell, and the three remaining Earp ladies rejoice. The demon is gone! (Except we’re only 1/3 of the way into the episode, so obviously the demon is not gone, guys.) But Michelle takes a minute to celebrate and honestly probably breathes the first easy breath she’s had in 20 years.
Your smile is like a breath of spring
Jolene calls Waverly outside and traps her in the devil’s snare (or whatever — I haven’t watched Supernatural in ages, because they treat their female characters like garbage), coaxing Waverly into knocking her out of it…but tricks everyone into thinking Waverly attacked her. Like, this is the worst demon ever. How could you turn everyone against Waverly?!
Your voice is soft like summer rain
At the Homestead, Mama and Wynonna celebrate with some whiskey and then gang up on Waverly, who apologizes to Jolene AGAIN. Jolene takes the opportunity to drive a wedge between her and all of the women in her life, since apparently Jolene and Nicole are best friends. Sure,
Jan Jolene. The party moves to Shorty’s, where Mama and Wynonna start to question the logic of a Revenant being in Mama’s head. Jolene tries to ply them with more baked goods, with no luck, so she drops the “Kate is Doc’s wife” bomb on them. Divide and conquer is working like a charm, as Wynonna freaks out about Big Nose Kate in the bathroom to Jolene. To add insult to injury, Jolene lets it slip that Waverly knew that Kate was Doc’s wife, and Wynonna lashes out at the Earpiest Earp. We’ve seen Wynonna be mean, sure, but calling Waverly “half sister”? That’s just cruel.
And I cannot compete with you, Jolene
Doc pays Bobo a visit at the well because he’s looking for an angle on Bulshar, plying him with…banana liqueur? Really, Doc? Turns out that all Bobo wants is a friend, and he asks for Waverly to visit him. I think that’s unlikely, Bobo, but at least you have a drink to keep you company. Oh, and Bobo tells Doc that Bulshar wants his ring back.
He talks about you in his sleep
Somehow Michelle has found herself behind the bar, and gives Doc the business about his business with Kate. She slaps him when he calls Jolene “the prettiest girl in Purgatory,” and Doc can’t even blame her. He doesn’t know why he said that.
There’s nothing I can do to keep from crying when he calls your name, Jolene
Nicole shows up, and honestly, guys — it’s just everyone getting mad at each other for the shitty strings that Jolene is pulling behind everyone’s back. Wynonna’s mad at Doc for having a secret wife, Doc is feeling useless, and Nicole is feeling left out. And everyone is mad at Waverly for no real reason. Oh, and Jolene sprays herself with the damn taps and even throws the “smile and wave” line out, thinking that a little wet shirt is all it takes to seduce Nicole Haught.
And I can easily understand how you could easily take my (wo)man
Waverly sees it all, though, and tries to attack Jolene, which adorably includes throwing a piece of pie at her. Mama throws the first punch in an amazing bar fight sequence, punctuated by Jolene singing “Cheater, Cheater” as it rages, dedicating it to chaos like some low-rent Ethan Rayne. Waverly throws beer on Wynonna, Mama jumps on some random dude’s back and punches Kate, and Doc gets tossed around his own bar. Top shelf, man. Top shelf.
But you don’t know what he means to me, Jolene
At the jail, Nicole books Wynonna and her mama into a cell for drunk and disorderly, and as punishment, she withholds Jolene’s Baked Goods of Manipulation. But, even under the influence of scones, Nicole tells the officer on duty to call her first if they give her any trouble. Because Jolene may be good, but she can’t totally erase the love Nicole has for any of the Earps, even Wynonna….no matter how much she wants to. And no matter how much every fiber of her being is screaming that she’s annoyed with Waverly for keeping secrets from her.
Kate has Jolene’s number, though. She knows she’s not who she seems and says she owes “him” fealty, who I assume is Bulshar and probably not a Hundy reference. For all of her other issues, Kate does not take Jolene’s shit, and I’m here for it.
I’m begging of you, please don’t take my man
Doc finds Waverly at the police station, crying next to the vending machines. He asks about Bulshar’s ring, and she directs him to Nicole, so he asks what’s wrong, his voice heavy with annoyance. Yet another person to make Waverly feel like what she’s going through isn’t valid. The demon came when Waverly was born, and Waverly worries that she’s the demon. Doc seems like he’s about to talk her out of it, but gets Snickerdoodled again and tells her that, yeah, it seems likely she could be a demon. Waverly’s heart breaks a little bit more, all thanks to Jolene.
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Nicole is waiting in Waverly’s room, ready to apologize and confused about why they even fought in the first place. Jolene, wearing a very Waverly-esque jacket (is that actually Waverly’s, though?), tries to seduce Nicole. Nicole, confused, asks if Jolene is even into chicks, and Jolene tells her she’s “whatever you want me to be.”
Please don’t take [her] just because you can
But the joke’s on you, Jolene — you CAN’T take her, because Nicole’s love for Waverly is stronger than any demon scone you can bake, poppyseeds or not, and Nicole realizes she doesn’t even like Jolene, much less want to be JoHaught with her. Outraged, Jolene attacks Nicole, and confusingly, Bulshar’s ring rattles on Waverly’s dresser. Jolene grabs for it, but is burned by the stone, then throws Nicole into the…closet. Ironically.
Was the ring drawn to Nicole, or had it found its way to Waverly? I’m sure there’s no mythology there or anything we’ll need to unpack later. Moving right along.
In the drunk tank, Michelle and Wynonna are sobering up. Wynonna apologizes for thinking Michelle abandoned them, then admits she did the same to her own daughter, Alice — she gave her up to protect her. I think Michelle has the reaction that Wynonna needed all along but never got. She agrees that it was probably the right decision. There’s no pity. There’s no disappointment. There’s no judgment. There’s just a quiet acceptance that Wynonna made the best call with the horrible hand of cards she was dealt. She was finally the mother that Wynonna needed her to be, even if she doesn’t even realize it.
You could have your choice of men
Wynonna and Michelle slowly realize that the demon is still out there, and so is Waverly. They immediately begin shouting for Nedley, who lays eyes on Michelle Gibson for the first time in years, and it’s incredibly sweet.
But I could never love again
They explain to Nedley that the demon is after Waverly, and the only person to protect her is Jolene.
Jolene? Jolene. Jolene! And beautiful, perfect, amazing Randy Nedley is the knight in shining armor that they need. “Who the potato is Jolene?” he asks. You know. Paraphrasing. Wynonna and Michelle suddenly realize that Jolene is the demon that they’ve been trying to protect Waverly from..and then tell him to drop the butter tarts.
He’s the only one for me, Jolene
Waverly walks the grounds of the Gibson greenhouse and runs into Jolene, who calls her a demon. Pot, Kettle. Jolene turns into that voice that so many of us have in our heads, the one that is louder and more insistent on some days than others. The one who tells us we are worthless and no one loves us. The one who tells us that we can’t do anything right and that everyone who says they love us is just pretending, because how on Earth (or in Hell) could they ever love someone like us? The voice that tells us that we deserve nothing good and that everything we touch turns into a garbage potato. Perhaps you’re familiar with it. I know that I am.
I had to have this talk with you, my happiness depends on you
But Waverly’s facing an actual flesh-and-blood demon who is TELLING HER THESE THINGS TO HER FACE and who is trying to convince her to end her life. She tells Waverly she’s evil and that her father was a demon. She hands her the knife and tells her that ending her life is the only thing that will make it better.
And whatever you decide to do, Jolene
Jolene suddenly decides to be honest with Waverly and tells her that Waves was born out of goodness and light, and Jolene was created from the garbage that was left over (like the plot of Twins). She’s taken away everything that Waverly loves and turned everyone who ever loved Waverly against her, and so they’re the same now. Alone. But the thing is, Jolene didn’t realize that she was messing with the smartest gal in Purgatory, because no matter how alone Waverly feels or how lost she gets, there’s one thing she knows deep down — Wynonna.
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Wynonna loves her. And so does Nicole and Doc and Jeremy and probably even Nedley and Perry and Gus. Jolene tries to argue with her that she’s nothing, and Waverly’s not having it. “I’m here. I’m here and I stay…and I never, ever give up on them.” That’s right, Jolene. No matter how many confusion brownies you bake, Waverly will never give up on the people she loves. And Waverly can’t kill Jolene, since they’re linked, but she definitely can attack her with a shovel and let Wynonna shoot her, before she’s ensnared by Mama and then gobbled up by a tree. Fealty’s a bitch, Jolene, and I don’t think it believes Waverly was for Bulshar. Just another Friday in Purgatory.
“Come on, girls. Let’s go home,” says Mama. I think that “home” is something they all deserve.
I’m begging of you, please don’t take my man
And after all of this, Waverly deserves a bajillion apology gifts from her girlfriend, and it looks like that’s what she got.
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Nicole explains how she turned down Jolene’s advances and somehow boomeranged Bulshar’s ring back to her, which is super weird. But even though Jolene threw her into the closet, she’s safe now. Waverly apologizes for not always keeping Nicole in the loop, since she’s her calm, safe, sane, quiet rock. Nicole thinks they can maybe talk about it all later.
Please don’t take him even though you can
Oh, and Doc calls on Bulshar, his ring on Doc’s hand, and vows to fight him head-on. If he ends up going to Hell, he’s not going alone.
And Wynonna pays Waverly’s imaginary friend a visit to let him know Waverly won’t be visiting anytime soon, and Bobo drops a Heaven-sized bomb on her — Julian, Waverly’s father, is an angel.
Well, damn. For an episode that had a lot of exposition disguised as a fun drunken bar brawl, it gave me a lot of feelings.
There are so many similarities between Wynonna and Michelle. Knowing there were demons when no one else believed you. Thinking you’re not a good person (or mother) when, in fact, you’d sacrifice your life to save your people… and make it so your daughter isn’t in your life because it’s safer for her. A taste for equally strong snark and whiskey. Killer hair.
I felt so many Buffy parallels in this episode, maybe the strongest ones that I’ve ever felt. Jolene was part Spike in late season-four, trying to drive a wedge between the Scoobies, and Jonathan in “Superstar,” appearing from nowhere as everyone’s best friend, even though no one can really pinpoint who she is even under her influence. And the scene with Waverly and Jolene where Jo is whispering to Waverly to take her own life? Classic Buffy. Taking a supernatural situation and making it feel so…real. How many of us have heard that voice? You know the one — telling you that no one loves you, that everyone would be better off if you weren’t around.
When Jolene told Nicole she was “whatever she wanted her to be,” for some reason, that hit me really hard. I remember my first girlfriend, who I really dated only because she was into girls and, for reasons I didn’t understand, me. I became whatever she wanted me to be, just so she’d like me, convinced I didn’t deserve any better. Because our internal Jolene cuts us down from any angle she can find, doesn’t she?
Jolene is able to prey on everyone’s worst fears, and then manipulate how they react to those fears to attack Waverly, whose biggest fear is probably feeling like she doesn’t belong. She was a cheerleader, dated the rodeo star, and was voted most popular in town with a sash and everything. She smiles and waves and tries to make everyone happy, often at the expense of herself. But for the first time in her life, the two people who mean the most to her don’t want her to do that. And then Jolene turns them against her, and I think for me that’s the most relateable. Because feeling left out and worrying that no one likes you is more terrifying than a Revenant from Hell attacking your homestead, you know? For years, I went through life trying to blend in to the background, making people happy, wanting to just fit in and hoping no one would notice that I’m different. But after I met my Wynonna and Waverly — you know, those people who love me because of who I am, not despite it — I started to be able to ignore that Jolene voice in my head telling me that no one loved me. I started to get stronger. I started to be able to ignore that voice more often than not. Take that, Jolene.
And that scene with Waverly and Jolene in the greenhouse. [ Deep breath ] As a queer woman, I’m used to seeing characters like me die. Be killed. Shot, stabbed, poisoned. My entire life I’ve grown up being told — by family, by my church, by books, by TV, by movies — that what I am is inherently bad. That my orientation was born out of the muck and that I need to struggle to find a way to overcome it. But not Wynonna Earp. And not Emily and Shelley and Noelle and Caitlin and Matt and Brandon. No, ma’am. In this show, the queer lady is the ANGEL. Or half angel/half rodeo spitfire. Or something. Whatever. Who knows. Anyway, my point is, one of the multiple queer people on this TV show literally battled with her inner demon and won. And then almost beat it with a shovel. It’s a difficult scene, a heartbreaking scene, a necessary scene, but most of all — a satisfying scene. Waverly won. She won and she’s good and she’s loved and she’s going to be OK.
And so are we.
Monica’s Random Thoughts of Randomness:
- When Kate drew the angel card for Waverly but it was upside down, was she sensing the impending arrival of Jolene?
- I appreciate the fact that Mama says Wynonna’s name just slightly differently than everyone else. My dad did this — a just-so-slightly unique pronunciation of Monica that no one else had.
- I do enjoy that Wynonna tied her mother up with, among other things, an extension cord.
- Like Willa, Jolene is like a spoiled burrito. She has many layers, but unfortunately, most of them are rotten. Some good in there, though, really. Just like the tiniest bit. You didn’t need that tongue, did you, Revenant guard?
- Also, when does Jolene have time to do all of this baking?
- A lot of praise is heaped on the women of this show (and justifiably so), but Tim Rozon KILLED this episode. His facial expressions, body language, and language patterns as he shifted between being regular and Jolene’d were phenomenal.
- So, wait. Did Nicole just eat that gluten-free pizza in Season 2 because she likes it? Because I don’t think those scones are paleo.
- I kind of love Nicole calling them “those Earp bitches.”
- Weird that Mama never asked about Willa. Does she know that she was even taken in the first place? Or that she wasn’t actually taken and was in fact Bobo Del Ray’d in a swan house? And now she’s definitely maybe dead, this time at Wynonna’s hand? Or maybe is Willa not Michelle’s at all and so she just doesn’t care about that spoiled burrito?
- OK, seriously, did Bobo eat something off of the well wall?!
- Michelle Earp jumping on someone’s back in a drunken bar fight is exactly how I thought Wynonna’s mother would be.
- Wynonna told Michelle that she sent Alice away, but does Michelle know that she’s with Gus, I wonder.
- Like Randy Nedley, I also love a good butter tart.
Another excellent episode, my friends. Thanks for taking the journey with me. I’ll see you next week, OK?
What did you think of this week’s episode? Share your thoughts below!
Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on SYFY and Space Channel.